Thursday, June 16, 2016

Interviewing Relatives of Isaac's Neighbors

Isaac's "Dream Home" glued in his journal
I found Isaac Werner's journal in 2010 because I stayed in Kansas after my Mother's death to handle her estate.  To fill the days while waiting for estate matters needing my attention, I did some research about my family, and in that way I stumbled upon the journal.

Immediately I recognized the historic value of Isaac's journal, and I laid my family research aside to begin what has consumed--off and on--six years of research.  I realized that a few "old timers" remained in Stafford County who might help me collect information about early settlers, and I also realized that many with family connections going back that far were already gone or had memories less clear than they once were.

Now, six years later, I wish I had been more successful in reaching out to some of those people.  However, one gentleman that I did interview was Milton Mason John, Jr.  I was particularly delighted to talk with him because of his connection to Isaac's neighbor, G.G. John.  According to the probate records of Isaac's estate, G. G. John checked on Isaac daily for five months until it became necessary for Isaac to leave his home to obtain round-the-clock nursing care.  G.G. made Isaac an invalid chair and ran occasional errands in town for Isaac.  The request he made against Isaac's estate for his services was minimal, unlike another neighbor who bled Isaac's estate for an outrageous amount, given the wages being paid in the community at that time.

Southern home from 1800s
I came to admire G.G. John for his barely compensated attention to his declining neighbor, and I was eager to learn whatever Milton could share.

G.G. John was a brother to Milton's grandfather, and all of the boys in that family were given double initial first and middle names--Eleazer E., Milton Mason, Olin Olo, George G., and even John J. John.  G.G. John lived just to the west of Isaac Werner's timber claim, and Milton remembered G.G.'s home as quite large, with porches nearly all the way around.  Perhaps because the Johns had come from Virginia, G.G.'s house was built in the Southern style.  It no longer exists.  The information Milton gave me allowed my research on to provide more details that I might not otherwise have learned.

The image at the top of this blog was a clipping Isaac had glued in his journal--perhaps Isaac's dream home he hoped to build one day.  Milton described G.G.'s home as having been built in the "Southern style," so perhaps the photograph above might be similar, or perhaps the clipping Isaac saved with its porches might have resembled what G.G. built.

Milton Mason John, Jr. died this past March 27, 2016.  As a past St. John Postmaster (1955-1959), followed by his service as a rural mail carrier until his retirement in 1989, Milton was known and loved by many people.  I am sorry that he did not get to see my book about Isaac Werner published, but I am so grateful that I had a lovely interview with him that has become part of my research for the manuscript.

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